As promised an update on the weekends Supertour racing.
Well, if I thought the racecourse at West Yellowstone was fairly unique then the racecourse at Bozeman is an adrenalin rush!
I have heard a few different reasons for why they created the course but none seem to really explain it in my opinion. It is amazingly winding and narrow. It feels like you’re on a skiing rollercoaster ride for almost 5 km.
Leading into the race weekend, we got hit with another warm spell and things were ugly. The pre-race on Friday was a warm, sloppy mess. I went home Friday night thinking that the sprint the next day was going to be carnage and a suffer fest.
It was carnage but for a completely different reason…
Overnight the skies cleared and when we arrived on Saturday it was to concrete tracks and sheet ice!
The sprint course was fairly basic. It was simply up a two step hill and back down, plus a few turns. The one interesting feature was a 90 degree right hand turn between the steps on the way down.
In my warm-up I watched the girls race the time trial and very few made it around properly, a lot came out of the course, being shot wide and then re-entered further down the course. A bunch also just crashed out. I had another “ok” sprint but I was missing that last few percent and the spark I really need to make it into the heats still. Something to keep searching for.
That afternoon it rained and I again went to bed thinking of the nightmare I was going to wake to but again the next day dawned clear, cold and bulletproof snow. It was amazingly hard, so hard that they delayed the race start by an hour in the hope of the course softening. It never did so we all geared up for 15km of ice skiing on the windiest course I have ever raced on. I was determined to have another strong distance race and mass starts are always fun!
I was bib 40 and a little further up the back than I would of liked. It was three laps of 5km and so for the first lap I made it my business to steadily move up and overtake people, twisting and turning through the mass of athletes. One of my friends watching said they saw 7 men in a row fall on the same corner, there were even reports of people crashing into trees. It was just so icy.
I was having a great race and moved up into the second pack, sitting on the edge of a top twenty finish, I was loving the race.
At the end of each lap there are two steep brutal climbs before a long downhill into the stadium, over the last hill in the second lap I made an effort to break off the pack I was in. It worked, opening up a small gap, but the push cost me and my legs flooded with lactic and went to jelly. The first turn of the downhill is a rough, off cambered, icy right turn and as I rounded the corner my skis slipped and my legs were just putty and i couldn’t bring it back, I ended up spinning out and lying on my stomach facing up hill. All my effort was wasted as the pack and more wizzed past me. I quickly recovered but lost a lot of time and never managed to regain the pack again. I ended up 32nd/80. A far cry from the top 20 I was gunning for but on the positive I know I’m in good distance form, I just need to keep putting it together properly.
It was one of the craziest courses but realistically the organizers did a fantastic job pulling it all off considering how crazy the weather conditions were each night. Again the BSF waxing crew nailed the wax and did a fabulous job of turning our skis into rockets!
The team heads to Canada on Thursday for a weekend of racing and I can’t wait for another chance of a strong distance race!
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.